Jan 17 , 2019
Planning and Tools
If the thought of pouring concrete scares the bejeebers out of you, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger. This story will teach you the basics so you’ll be confident and ready to go when the concrete truck pulls up to the curb. And you’ll save the concrete walkway cost of hiring concrete pros to boot.
A giant ready-mix truck driving up to your house can be intimidating. I always get butterflies when I hear the diesel roaring a half mile away. But being prepared with solid forms, good equipment, a couple of strong helpers and a well-planned wheelbarrow route will help calm the nerves. Once you dump the first few wheelbarrow loads and get the hang of moving the wet mud around, you’ll feel in complete control.
Concrete might be the cheapest building material on the planet. It’s hard to imagine a material that gives more bang for the buck than concrete for the cost of sidewalk. What other material yields a permanent, finished, durable, maintenance-free outside surface at a low cost and a day’s work? Around these parts, many contractors won’t put down a gravel base or even use steel reinforcing. Bonus: Your sidewalk will be stronger and last longer than many professionally poured sidewalks. In addition to the concrete walkway cost, suppliers usually add a ‘short load’ charge for small orders (generally under 3 yds.). This 4-ft. wide by 60-ft. long and 4-in.-thick walk required just over 4 yds of concrete.
Plus, if you have a concrete walkway that needs to be redone, check out our expert tips, tools and planning advice to guide you through concrete demolition that will save you big bucks.
Front Walk Site
You may need a building permit—check to be sure. At this site, we didn’t need a building permit for a residential sidewalk on private property. But take five minutes and call your local building inspector to make sure that’s true in your area. You’ll save some embarrassment and possibly a fine. Stick to sidewalk projects in flat or gently sloping areas. Adding steps is much more complicated.
You’re going to need a couple of heavy-duty wheelbarrows, shovels, rakes and a variety of professional-grade concrete finishing tools. We describe the tools in detail below. The hand tools may be worth buying if you intend to pour more concrete down the road. For a modest price, you can own a set of high-quality tools (minus the wheelbarrows) for life and not have to hassle with rentals. Take heed. Concrete is heavy and time is short. Once the ready-mix truck (the concrete is premixed and ready to pour) shows up, you and your helpers will be muscling around 200-lb. wheelbarrows over gravel. This work is intense—you won’t be taking any coffee breaks for a while.
After pouring and screeding, you may see things slow down a bit, but they can get a little frantic again when the concrete begins to firm up. Follow the tips and advice in this article, get ahold of the right professional-grade tools, line up at least two reliable, beefy helpers and pick a good weather day, and you’ll end up with a long-lasting, attractive sidewalk you’ll be proud to carve your initials into.